As a church, we’re meant to “encourage each other and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). We can do this for each other in many ways, including prayer, words of wisdom and encouragement, service, discipleship, and so on. However, one part of the church that’s often overlooked in these areas is church leadership.

God gives leaders to the church to fill a variety of different roles. These may include pastors, elders, teachers, worship leaders, and many others. We tend to think that our spiritual leaders, especially our pastors, have all the answers, never have doubts or questions, and generally are well-equipped to handle whatever is thrown their way. As church members, we may often go to them when we need advice, affirmation, comfort, or just a listening ear. However, we may not realize that leaders need all these things too.

Our church leaders are just people like us. While they may be very talented and more knowledgeable about some things, that doesn’t mean they have it together all the time, no matter how calm and collected they look on the outside. Here are some ways we can offer support to church leaders during mental health month and beyond.

Provide affirmation & encouragement.

 Leaders may often get a lot of criticism or need to deal with many problems. Even if they are well-liked and doing a great job, they may not be getting very much positive feedback. A letter, card, small gift, or word of appreciation could brighten their day. To go a step further, offering specific praise can let them know to continue what they’re doing well.

Ask them how they’re doing.

Leaders are real people with families, interests, hobbies, desires, and concerns. They love to hear about you and answer your questions, but be sure to take time to engage them in genuine conversation that goes both ways. When you ask how they’re doing, be sure to genuinely listen to their answer and let them know you care.

Ask them if you can pray for them in a specific way.

Leaders often have an entire congregation or group to worry about, but how often are they asked about what’s troubling them day-to-day? Again, we may pray for guidance generally, but asking for specific ways to pray could help them feel heard and cared for. Don’t forget their families too! They often share many of the same pressures and worries.

Get to know them outside of the church setting.

Church leaders, especially pastors, may not have much “off” time. Their jobs don’t end at a certain time of day, and they don’t get weekends off. They often have to be available all the time for the church’s needs. But everyone needs a break now and then. Having lunch together or planning a fun day fishing, bowling, gardening, etc. could be a nice way to let them enjoy your company outside of a strict “ministry” capacity.

What are some other ways to care for spiritual leaders? Leave ideas in the comments below. If you’re a pastor or other church leader, please feel free to comment with some ways you’d appreciate receiving support.


Author Hannah Rau is a Michigan-based writer and writing tutor. Hannah earned degrees in English and rhetoric and minored in Bible. She enjoys exploring literature, media, and culture through the lens of her Christian faith. And drinking coffee. Lots of coffee.